Bournemouth University

School of Conservation Sciences

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Industry award for innovative use of GIS

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BU’s Andy Ford, centre BU’s Andy Ford, centre

Project to monitor erosion of World Heritage site earns national innovation award for BU academic

A collaborative project involving the use of a Geographic Information System (GIS) by BU’s Andy Ford to monitor and predict the erosion of the Jurassic Coast has won a national award.

The GIS Innovation Awards, presented by technology firm ESRI (UK), recognises the innovative use of GIS in a wide range of applications. Ford, a Lecturer in Geoinformatics from BU’s Centre for Conservation Ecology & Environmental Change worked with colleague Dr Anjana Ford, Education Co-ordinator from the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site team, on a project that examined the erosion of one of the World Heritage Site’s key fossil locations - the Ammonite Pavement on Monmouth Beach near Lyme Regis.

The project involved intensive periods of field work on the Jurassic Coast using a high resolution Global Positioning System (GPS), provided by BU, to map the extents of the ammonite-rich ledges. This data was then taken back to the laboratory and analysed using GIS where Tom Hearing, a pupil from the Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester, created a series of maps that show which areas of the ammonite pavement are liable to erosion, and therefore vulnerable to losing fossils.

The project earned Hearing the title of ‘Young Scientist of the Year’ for 2010 at the national ‘Big Bang’ Science Fair in Manchester.

“This site has "outstanding universal value" due to its numerous fossils and is part of the reason the Jurassic Coast was designated a World Heritage Site,” said Andrew Ford. “Yet it is also under threat from erosion by the sea, not least due to the potential of sea level rise. Tom's maps will allow us to monitor the erosion of the site for years to come. Tom was an excellent student and completed an extremely challenging and important project.”

Richard Waite, Managing Director, ESRI UK, commented, “We are very pleased to recognise the winners of the ESRI UK GIS Innovation Awards, particularly given the high number and standard of the entries we received. It is inspiring to see so many organisations from all key industry sectors using GIS to make a real difference.”

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